Conor Dailey (IAC 15, 17-18, IAA 15-19) was a tuba major at Interlochen Arts Camp and Interlochen Arts Academy. He worked on Camp staff in the summers of 2019, 2020 and 2021 and volunteers regularly both on-campus and off.
Briefly describe your current job and career path.
I recently finished my second year of undergraduate studies at Ball State University where I am pursuing a double major in music and environmental stewardship with a leadership studies minor while studying in the Honors College. Following the conclusion of my baccalaureate studies, I hope to pursue graduate studies in the field of environmental science and potentially complete a Juris Doctorate focusing on environmental law.
What’s your Interlochen story?
My Interlochen story goes back to some of my very first private lessons on tuba. My private lesson instructor at the time suggested that I audition for the Intermediate orchestra and wind ensemble program in the summer of 2015. After submitting my audition tape, Tom Riccobono, instructor of low brass, emailed my parents offering information about the Academy. My parents graciously supported my desire to audition, and on a cloudy day in April, I auditioned for the Academy and enrolled at the beginning of my ninth grade year. Starting at the Academy just a few weeks after finishing my first camp summer was interesting, to say the least. I was so used to the strict enforcement of the uniform policy that I wore perfect Camp uniform for the entirety of my freshman year. Between my sophomore and junior years at the Academy, I returned for the one-week Low Brass Institute, and between my junior and senior years, I spent seven weeks at Camp.
Performing “Les Preludes” at the end of the 2018 summer reminded me of two things: that performance was my last as a camp student, and in just a few short weeks, I would be entering my fourth and final year at the Academy, where it would be a long year of “lasts.” As I think back on my time at the Academy, I would not have changed a thing. I had the opportunity to become involved across campus as a peer tutor, peer assistant, admissions ambassador, and IPR volunteer, in addition to service within the Dennison Center for Recreation and Wellness where I coordinated recreational leagues and assisted with the formation of Interlochen’s first varsity teams in volleyball and basketball during the 2018-19 year. Since graduation, I’ve been fortunate enough to return to work at Camp every summer.
I am beyond thankful for my family who supported me throughout my years at Camp and Academy, and for their continued support.
Why do you give back to Interlochen today?
After spending my formative years at Interlochen, the community here has become home for me. I give back to Interlochen today because Interlochen gave so much to me over my four years and three camp summers, and I can think of no better way to continue to support the unique community that is found here. Interlochen is truly an amazing place that will always hold a special place in my heart. Interlochen students have a finite number of days as campers or Academy students, but the amount of time we spend as alumni is much longer. Giving back to Interlochen just seems natural.
What would you say to alumni who are thinking about ways to give back?
The one thing I would have to say is simply reach out. There are so many ways to give back to Interlochen. If you aren’t sure how to get started or if you would like more information, reaching out to the Office of Engagement is the best way to start off.
Why does art matter in our world today?
Art has and continues to touch every single aspect of our lives and community. First and foremost, we cannot ignore the educational benefits of the arts, especially in primary and secondary schools. Art provides the opportunity to learn patience, practice, determination, and self discipline, among so many other skills that are critical in today’s society. I find myself returning to the inscription on the back wall of Kresge Auditorium, “Dedicated to the Promotion of World Friendship through the Universal Language of the Arts.” The arts have the unique ability to unite humanity through shared experiences across cultures and other barriers that divide us. Finally, the arts give us a voice and will shape how future generations look back on our current society.
What advice would you give current or prospective Interlochen students?
Two pieces of advice immediately come to mind. The first is to get involved and do everything you can at Interlochen. The connections and friendships that you make at Interlochen are truly special, and later on when your classmates or cabinmates end up on a best sellers list, in a newspaper highlighted in a review, or in a program book, you’ll be able to remember the time you spent with them at Interlochen.
For the second part of this first piece of advice, I have to return to something I brought up earlier: as a student you have a finite number of days at Interlochen. There is no one stopping you from spending every free minute solely practicing your art or doing homework, but you won’t get the true Interlochen experience that way. Spend time going to performances, readings, gallery shows, film showings, and anything else that is offered, and truly immerse yourself in the arts here. But don’t forget about some of the traditional high school experiences either. Cheer on the Fighting Blueberries, go to Morp, and get involved in some of the clubs on campus (like the Quizbowl team)!
My other piece of advice is to truly value your academic classes. Each member of the academic faculty cares about your success and wants you to succeed both academically and artistically and will support you in any way that they can. Interlochen is such a magical place and there is nowhere else like it. Enjoy it while you can, and don’t forget to explore ways to give back to the community as a student and as an alum.